D.O.A. - Hardcore '81 review


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Band: D.O.A.
Album: Hardcore '81
Release date: 1981

01. D.O.A.
02. Unknown
03. Slumlord
04. Musical Interlude
05. I Don't Give A Shit
06. M.C.T.F.D.
07. Communication Breakdown [Led Zeppelin cover]
08. 001 Loser's Club
09. Fucked Up Baby
10. The Kenny Blister Song
11. Smash The State
12. My Old Man's A Bum/Bloodsucker Baby
13. Waiting For You

It's rare an album is so good that a genre takes its name after said album's title; D.O.A. were rewarded with that honour with the release of Hardcore '81, marking the point punk and the newly dubbed hardcore would split, if only in name. If this factoid turns out to be an urban myth, it's damn well believable owing to the quality on show here; it deserves recognition on a level equal to that.

While sonically it has all the hallmarks of punk, D.O.A. were amongst a pool of bands who were pushing the boundaries of punk from inside the genre. On Hardcore '81 you can witness musical mitosis with a kickass soundtrack; while still having the hallmarks of punk it is used as a base to leap to new destinations from.

From the jangly piano-infused "Unknown" to the wake up call of "Smash The State", D.O.A. know how to make the most of each second in the short but sweet tracks that adorn this album. With tongue firmly in cheek, the band treat the listener to a music education with tracks like "Musical Interlude" and the aptly named "I Don't Give A Shit"; the band may have branched out into a new genre but their roots would forever be punk.

Keithley may not be the most talented vocalist but he makes up for it in attitude, being able to switch between sarcasm and anger at the drop of a hat, never sounding contrived or unnatural at any point in this switch. Keithley also shares guitar duties alongside Gregg, both of whom ensure each track is punctuated with power chords that sneer and ring with each strum. Biscuits sounds like a whirlwind of energy, standing on the head of a pin where he is able to sound sloppy and punk yet actually be very precise without sounding robotic; it's a sound many will try to emulate but never match.

Hardcore '81 is well produced if you are a fan of the lo-fi sound; everything is coherent and has a charm about it that works. If you aren't a fan of raw sounding music then this album will rub you up the wrong way for sure, though if you're a fan of 80s hardcore, then this is one of the better produced lo-fi early recordings.

Is it a perfect album? No, there are flaws to be found on here that detract from its overall impact. "Communication Breakdown" is a good idea as a thumb to the nose of what is considered great music but in execution it doesn't actually sound great; the joke rebounds on the band and they look the fools that they're pretending to be.

If you ever want to delve back to the point where the split become (un)official between hardcore and punk then Hardcore '81 is that landmark moment; Canada were more than just a detour up north for American bands, D.O.A. showed that they were able to hold their own when it came to raising the stakes in the punk game.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Production: 7

Written by omne metallum | 02.07.2020


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